The growth goes on. It really is remarkable that as Australia’s economic growth continues to outshine most of the developed world that the government is apparently held in such low esteem. Especially puzzling to me in this morning’s gross domestic product figures is that New South Wales, where the government is polling so poorly, is growing respectably while Labor continues to lead in Victoria which is going backwards.

Kevin the rort. Julia Gillard would have wished for a better backdrop for the Herald Sun’s picture of her at yesterday’s funeral, which provided a new meaning to her earlier comments on the system of 457 visas.

Tony Abbott was shown in friendlier circumstances as we add to our portfolio of politicians with babies.

Testing whether bigger is better. And now for a real test of grassroots democracy: do people really think that when it comes to democracy that bigger is better? Some of the good burghers of Mareeba in north Queensland were none to happy when their own little shire was amalgamated with neighbours to become part of the Tablelands Regional Council. They raised their voices loud enough to be given a referendum on whether the amalgamation should be undone.

Saturday will be decision day, and the Cairns Post has got into the spirit of things and conducted an opinion poll. And when a paper has spent the money, where else can you get value for it but by putting the findings on page one?

What about me? Julia Gillard is discovering a variation on nimbyism as she promises her way around the west of Sydney. Let’s call it “wambyism” or What About My Back Yard.

I detect from the evidence of the letters to the editor columns that there is considerable jealousy from residents of other places that they are missing out on the goodies. I suppose it proves that if you win some you can lose some.

News and views noted along the way.

  • Give me liberty, and give me government-subsidized broccoli — “Americans are all for government efforts to get them to eat more healthfully, as long as they don’t feel like they’re being bullied into it. That’s what people said in a new survey about government efforts to influence how we eat, like New York City’s ban on supersized sodas.”
  • Send in the clowns — “Rage against the political establishment has become a global phenomenon. Chinese bloggers, American Tea Party activists, British Europhobes, Egyptian Islamists, Dutch populists, Greek ultra-rightists, and Thai ‘red shirts’ all have one thing in common: hatred of the status quo and contempt for their countries’ elites. We are living in an age of populism. The authority of conventional politicians and traditional media is slipping away fast.”
  • The social earthquake rumbles ever louder — “More than a million people of all ages took to the streets of Portugal on March 2 to demand an end to austerity. The growing discontent could bring down the political system that has been in place since the fall of the dictatorship.”
  • How Christine Lagarde beat the odds to head IMF
  • Asia’s dammed water hegemon – “… the Chinese government has unveiled plans to build large new dams on major rivers flowing to other countries. The decision by China’s State Council to ride roughshod over downstream countries’ concerns and proceed unilaterally shows that the main issue facing Asia is not readiness to accommodate China’s rise, but the need to persuade China’s leaders to institutionalize cooperation with neighboring countries.”
  • Mao’s final teacher — “The most important thing is to shape students’ good moral character by conducting Mao Zedong Thought. My goal is to train my students into people who can ‘serve the people’ – this is the core idea of Mao Zedong Thought.”

Peter Fray

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